Saturday, June 13, 2009

Dr. Helen posts something pertaining to a topic I had just blogged about -- Autism: The Extremely Male Brain?

The Essential Difference: Male And Female Brains And The Truth About Autism.

Google Books

More Links:
Autism Research Centre - ARC people : Simon Baron-Cohen
Edge Bio
Wired 9.12: Take The AQ Test and Wired 9.12: Think Different?
When Two Minds Think Alike
"I Cannot Tell a Lie - what people with autism can tell us about honesty"

Browsing for a Mate by Candice Watters
Online dating services are popular enough to warrant their own reality show. What do you need to know if you're planning to use (or already a member of) a web-based matchmaking service?
NLM: Ordinations at the Benedictine Monastery of Clear Creek
Mr. Lew Daly offers some more of his thoughts: Face Right, Move Left

This piece and the resulting discussion in the combox give two competing visions of distributism and Catholic Social Teaching? One that is more paleoconservative/paleolibertarian and one that is more progressive or statist?

Politics is the art of the possible, but if what is possible for the government to do are unjust acts, then is it not better for it to do nothing? Evil cannot be done so that some good may be brought about.
Countering Meanness: David Denby and P.M. Forni (mp3)
Kevin Hughes talks about Ivan Illich: Hospitality in a World Immune to Grace.

I was struck by this:

Illich’s crusade against global development programs led to the establishment of the Center for Intercultural Documentation (CIDOC), and this, in turn, led to considerable tensions between him and Rome, to the point that he voluntarily stepped away from his title and role as a Catholic priest. He remained a man of deep Catholic faith, but he was careful to respect the terms of his departure, devoting himself entirely to his work in sociology and history.

I'd like to know more about what transpired. What would he say about the documents coming out of the Curia now concerning global development?


Deschooling Society (alternative site; pdf)
Eco Books
Tools for Conviviality
"To Hell with Good Intentions"
"Silence is a Commons"
various documents
ivan illich: deschooling, conviviality and the possibilities for informal education and lifelong learning
The Preservation Institute
A Turbulent Priest in the Global Village by Richard Wall

Friday, June 12, 2009

From melkimx: boa is headlining this year's SF pride event in two weeks

Is this really so? Does BoA know what SF Pride is? If she does, what kind of Catholic is she, to give support like this? This could be very disappointing.


Better than Gladiator? Or worse than King Arthur?

First Look: Olga Kurylenko in Neil Marshall's 'Centurion'
First Look: Neil Marshall's Centurion On-Set Featurette
Neil Marshall Centurion : Teaser Trailer
Behind the Scenes of Neil Marshall's Centurion /Film
New Photos: Neil Marshall's Centurion /Film

James Burnham's test for liberalism

Who are the liberals? by James Panero

There seem to me to be a few questions that should not be used to separate liberals from traditional conservatives:

5. In political or military conflict it is wrong to use methods of torture and physical terror.

14. Colonialism and imperialism are wrong.

15. Hotels, motels, stores and restaurants in southern United States ought to be obliged by law to allow Negroes to use all of their facilities on the same basis as whites.

By Federal law? No. State or local law? Perhaps.

30. There are no significant differences in intellectual, moral or civilizing capacity among human races and ethnic types.

Here we should distinguish between natural potential, and the potency of habit and culture.

(via VFR)
James Chastek, How do we show up to politics?

Mr. Chastek compares modern western society with the city of Sodom. To be read and pondered...
DNI: Pressfield on Tribalism

Steven Pressfield's video blog series about tribalism is here.

Edit. Round-up and discussion at FM.
Zenit: Papal Address to Italian Episcopal Conference
"Rediscover Both the Grace and the Duty of the Priestly Ministry"

The Holy Father emphasizes the need for a renewal of education in Italy, for people of all ages, as a means of evangelization.

In this Pauline Year, which we have lived by deepening our knowledge of the words and example of the great Apostle to the Gentiles, and which you have celebrated in various ways in your dioceses and, precisely yesterday, all together in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, his invitation rings out, especially effectively: "Be imitators of me" (1 Cor 11: 1).

These are courageous words. A true educator stakes himself first and is able to combine authority and exemplarity in the task of educating those entrusted to his care. We ourselves are aware of this, placed as we are as guides among the People of God, we to whom in turn the Apostle Peter addressed the invitation to tend God's flock by being "examples to the flock" (1 Pt 5: 3). These too are words on which to meditate.

Ignorant Americans should refrain

from talking about things they do not know...

What Really Happened in the Lebanese Elections? By ESAM AL-AMIN
Yup, Tom Friedman Gets It Wrong, Again

Plus two by Dr. Larison -- Let’s Not Get Carried Away and Another Thought On Lebanon.

The usefulness of the Online Etymological Dictionary

is manifest once again?

From the Online Etymological Dictionary:

c.1205, title placed before a name and denoting knighthood, from O.Fr. sire, from V.L. *seior, from L. senior "older, elder" (see senior). Standing alone and meaning "your majesty" it is attested from c.1225. General sense of "important elderly man" is from 1362; that of "father, male parent" is from c.1250. The verb meaning "to beget, to be the sire of" is attested from 1611, from the noun.

1297, title of honor of a knight or baronet (until 17c. also a title of priests), variant of sire, originally used only in unstressed position. Generalized as a respectful form of address by c.1350; used as a salutation at the beginning of letters from 1425.

as a title of courtesy before a man's Christian name, 1447, unaccented variant of master.

master (n.)
O.E. mægester "one having control or authority," from L. magister "chief, head, director, teacher" (cf. O.Fr. maistre, Fr. maître, It. maestro, Ger. Meister), infl. in M.E. by O.Fr. maistre, from L. magister, contrastive adj. from magis (adv.) "more," itself a comp. of magnus "great." Meaning "original of a recording" is from 1904. In academic senses (from M.L. magister) it is attested from 1380s, originally a degree conveying authority to teach in the universities. The verb is attested from c.1225.

M.E. laverd, loverd (13c.), from O.E. hlaford "master of a household, ruler, superior," also "God" (translating L. Dominus, though O.E. drihten was used more often), earlier hlafweard, lit. "one who guards the loaves," from hlaf "bread, loaf" + weard "keeper, guardian, ward." Cf. lady, and O.E. hlafæta "household servant," lit. "loaf-eater." Modern monosyllabic form emerged 14c. The verb meaning "to play the lord, domineer" is from 1377; to lord it is from 1579. Interjection Lordy first attested 1853, Amer.Eng. Lord of the Flies translates Beelzebub (q.v.) and was name of 1954 book by William Golding.

So while mister is derived from master, it appears to never have had the same connotation as master. Sir began to be used as a respectful form of address in civil society, not as a deferential form. Interesting. I don't see any reason why they can't be used in a more egalitarian society. (As they are, currently.)

However, why is sir used to address superiors in the military? Because of its link to sire?

It was once used (without the person's name) as a courtesy title among equals, but in common usage it is now usually reserved for one of superior rank or status, such as an educator or commanding officer, or in age (especially by a minor); as a form of address from a merchant to a customer; in formal correspondence (Dear Sir, Right Reverend Sir); or to a stranger (Sir, you've dropped your hat).

The equivalent for a woman when used as a term of address is "madam" or "ma'am".

If by convention here in the U.S. sir is used only for superiors, then what does one say to equals as a form of respectful address? Mister? Children can say that to adults who are strangers to them, but between adults, it sounds awkward, and that makes some sort of introduction necessary. But what if such an introduction is to be avoided? How should a police officer address someone? (I don't think they say anything except "you" when they are questioning someone.) If sir gives the wrong impression that the one saying it is an inferior, then what should replace it?

What did they do in the South? (I suppose an answer could be found in Northern social history as well.)

More reflections in this post and this one.
An interview with Jordi Savall (audio only)
AsiaNews: Controversy surrounds an expensive robe given to the abbot of Shaolin monastery
The robe is made with silk and gold thread. For years Abbot Shi has been criticised for turning his world-famous monastery into a tourist attraction and a money-making venture. For many this is compromising its religious and spiritual vocation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Charles Taylor interviews

Templeton Prize Winner Taylor Talks About Spirituality in Modern Society (mp3)

The New Atheism and the Spiritual Landscape of the West: A Conversation with Charles Taylor (Part One of Three) by Ronald A. Kuipers (Parts two and three.)

CBC interview (from 2007)
Russell Arben Fox discusses communitarianism -- Communitarianism, Conservatism, Populism and Localism: An Updated Survey:

Like “liberalism,” “communitarianism” can refer to both an ideology–a set of more or less organized set of claims or ideas about political positions and actions–and a philosophy. The range of arguments and proposals that can be plausibly identified as “philosophically communitarian” is, I think, much greater, culturally and historically, than is the case with liberalism. Practically all core liberal ideas are associated with the growth of personal and social liberation from the modern history of Europe: the rise of entrepreneurial capitalism and dogma-debunking science in the context of an increasingly rambunctious public sphere, with a skepticism of royal, church, and ultimately government authority which followed. Of course “liberty” (though Lew Daly would probably prefer to say “freedom” here) has its positive connotations, with economic and moral empowerment and equality being treated as a necessary requirements to the realization of liberal rights; T.H. Green made that argument in the 19th century, and John Rawls did the same in the 20th. But by and large, notions of rights (whether natural–John Locke–or categorical–Immanuel Kant) operate in a negative way, asserting what should not be done to a person or be imposed upon her interests or preferences in the name of a religious truth, a local tradition, a community norm, or a political goal. Liberalism–as a philosophy and ideology–is thus to a great degree a carrier of the individual liberation and social deconstruction achieved in the modern West to the rest of the world.

Communitarianism, by contrast, can be applied to any of a great number of philosophical presumptions that do not aim to justify individual liberation from tradition, authority, religion, society, necessity, and so forth, but rather to positively assert the embeddedness of the self in a community. The “liberty of the ancients” as described by Benjamin Constant–in which the existence of slavery made possible the regular participation of citizens in the collective formation of civic life–is basically communitarian, and rightly so; Aristotle and others like him are complicated thinkers that don’t easily fit into any one (especially modern) category, but only a seriously misinterpretation could discover in their writings a condemnation of the cultural and hierarchical claims of one’s community and the affects it has on individual lives. Similarly, one can discover communitarian ideas in classical Confucianism, medieval Christendom, or in almost any other premodern worldview. Practically any theology or ontology or epistemology which criticizes or undermines individuated, critical, unprejudiced (and therefore alienated) action or cognition, and considers to be natural or good or necessary its opposite (a dependence upon revelation, an emphasis on group-ordained roles, the prioritizing of mutual benefit and progress, etc.) is communitarian. Still, such broad descriptions–which could presumably equally fit Han dynasty China or ancient Sparta or 16th-century Swiss villages, to say nothing of their modern incarnations–leave much unexplained. Thus, figuring out exactly how any person or policy identified as communitarian comes to that label is at least as important as identifying it as such in the first place.

This is where things become particular interesting (or difficult, if you prefer) for populists and localists, or those sympathetic to such: do they insist upon a restrictive definition of community (as Jason Peters and Katherine Dalton do) as a specifically localized and peopled place, and deny the kind of thinking which suggests the applicability of orienting oneself towards an attendance upon cultural and collective norms which emerge from contexts other than extended families and small towns as having anything to do with “real” communities at all? Or do they (as I suggested in connection with public schooling) acknowledge there can be spheres of collective action and feeling that include broader, more “public” groups than those aforementioned, intimate ones, which would mean that the communitarian critique can be made use of in a diversity of settings–include, perhaps, even national ones? If the former approach is taken, then the very idea of communitarianism as anything other than an ontological category, much less as something sufficiently grounded as to be able to suggest moral and political possibilities at our present moment, seems ludicrous: Christopher Lasch’s old (I think somewhat unfair, but not entirely inaccurate) condemnation of communitarianism as too broad, too concerned in a sociological sense with “humanity” to be able to provide the specific judgments needed to revive the virtues that political freedom and economic security depend upon, would seem to be conclusive. But I suspect the latter approach can work as well–assuming that one can recognize and distinguish between the types of communitarian thinking one engages in.

Michael Walzer suggests in an old essay of his that contemporary communitarian perspectives can be sorted into two fundamental camps. The first perspective “holds that liberal political theory accurately represents liberal social practice.” That is, it affirms that the doctrines of liberalism–the notions of self, rationality, and nature which emphasize economic, social, moral and political liberation–have in fact resulted in the fragmentation of civilization: we have lost our ability to connect with one another, lost even the ability to coherently explain that loss, and consequently live materialist, egotistical, self-interested, isolated lives, with no sense of a common good, no moral standards for judgment, no solidarity, no traditions, no hope for transformation or better ends. The second perspective, by contrast, “holds that liberal theory radically misrepresents real life”–that the “deep structure of even liberal society is in fact communitarian.” Being born into a state of sovereign and independent nature, outside of embedded relationships of power and meaning, is of course impossible; the way we work through our families and languages and cultures to evaluate and make sense our lives proves that. Hence, according to this perspective, liberal theory is not so much destructive as it is confusing (though that confusion could do a fair amount of destruction along the way).

There are problems with both types, as Walzer notes; they struggle when they try to turn themselves into productive critiques of our undeniably liberated world. In regards to the first, if it is true that the modern flight from norms of obligation and belonging has destroyed our ability to articulate and attend to community, why exactly would we want to subject ourselves to communitarian policies which presumably would be in vain? In regards to the second, there is the fact that, as Walzer concludes, “if we are all to some degree communitarians under the skin…the portrait of social incoherence loses its critical force.” Still, Walzer believes–and I agree–that there is a lot of wisdom and truth in both types: if nothing else, recognizing them can help us humbly consider how much communal sensibility and appreciation for the public good the modern West has lost–even in its current nation-state (or post-nation-state!) contexts–and it is valuable to see how much of that sensibility nonetheless still haunts our moral and political thinking.

Assuming we can use communitarian labels in this broader way, who amongst philosophers and writers would fit with which perspective? On the basis of my own reading of them, I would describe Wendell Berry, Alasdair MacIntyre, and Robert Nisbet as communitarians of the former sort. (The residents of Front Porch Republic might insist that Berry would have no part of this, preferring instead to see his arguments as operating solely within the explicitly restrictive understanding of community mentioned above; however, if that were the case, then one might be a little hard-pressed to explain his not unoccasional willingness to recommend clearly “communitarian” command reforms of the national economy, and his wistfulness for ambitious New Deal-era efforts to preserve collective control over regional economies, such as through the Burley Tobacco Program.) On the other hand, Charles Taylor, Robert Bellah, and Walzer himself would be in the second camp–though it should be noted that, in any case, almost none of these people would use ever the word “communitarian” to describes themselves politically or economically.

And “conservatism”? Well, the ontological supports that advocates of these various communitarian critiques have philosophically drawn upon range across the above divide, and of course plenty of agitators for one or more of the above theories of government and society don’t feel a necessary connection to any particular sustaining philosophy at all. However, generally speaking, it seems to me that the more a person’s criticism of liberal modernity is based on conceptions of the natural world or revealed religion, the more likely it is to be “conservative” in the political sense, and thus tending towards the first type of generally applicable communitarian thought. This is the sort of communitarian ideology most Americans are used to, even though it’s rarely called by that name: this is where you find many advocates of traditional marriage and gender roles, opponents of artistic expressions and media that ignore local values, supporters of protectionism and small-town agricultural economies, and people critical of the language of rights and grievances. With them usually also comes both a sense of nostalgia or lamentation and, until the most recent election, perhaps, Republicans trawling all too successfully for votes. Of course, many of those who are persuaded by elements of this critique are not truly critical of philosophical liberalism at all; so long as the government stays small or they are able to keep a few socially conservative regulations on the books, they are content with the liberating, “creative destruction” of capitalism and individual rights.

On the other hand, if one’s critique of modern liberalism is based on social observations, such as about the importance of civic trust, national service, or class equity, whether derived from Karl Marx or Alexis de Tocqueville, then one’s communitarianism is, I think, likely to be more inclined to the second perspective. This is the kind of communitarianism that, in contrast to the former and more politically common type, more political theorists will be familiar with: Sandel, of course, but also Philip Pettit, William Galston, and Richard Dagger have been key figures in a small but significant “neo-Tocquevillian” revival, in which a re-attachment to the virtues that the liberal order presupposes, and a recommitment to its participatory demands and possibilities, are seen as crucial to restoring legitimacy to the modern democratic welfare state. Most of these individuals, strongly influenced by the social democratic left, see themselves as liberals or civic republicans rather than communitarians, a word which they (probably rightly, I think) associate with conservatism and (probably wrongly, I think) religious and political authoritarianism. Sometimes those in this group are categorized as “left” communitarians, as opposed to the previous, more “right”-leaning kind, and there is a certain logic to that usage (though I think both “left” and “right” can be used to explore conservatism, and thereby separate the pure traditionalists from those of a more explicitly communitarian focus as well). More usually they have eschewed such labels altogether, and defined themselves instead as representing a “Third Way” or a “Radical Center,” and in so doing have blurred to the point of indistinguishability the difference between themselves and scholars like Will Kymlicka who take community and culture seriously, but only on explicitly liberal terms. Nonetheless, even these left-leaning communitarians, by opening themselves up to necessity of tradition and attachment, usually find themselves less than instinctively supportive of modernity’s project of liberation, and in that sense, they are friends to FPR types.

Lew Daly, Liberty or Freedom?

Reflecting on this, I am struck by the fact that “liberty” and “freedom,” words we tend to use interchangeably, are really quite distinct in origin and meaning. I examine this briefly—very generally—in my forthcoming book God’s Economy, drawing on David Hackett Fischer’s fascinating discussion in his popular (and marvelous) study Liberty and Freedom. Fischer looks at our political heritage from the vantage point of distinguishing liberty and freedom as almost two different traditions. He starts with etymology and cultural linguistics, and the differences he finds in that regard are rather striking. Our English “liberty” derives from Latin and Greek—from the Latin libertas and the Greek eleutheros. The basic meaning here is “release from restraint,” or more generally, being separate and distinct from others. “Freedom,” on the other hand, is an Anglo-Saxon word that derives from the Indo-European root friya or priya, which, strikingly, means “dear” or “beloved.” The Norse, German, Dutch, Flemish, Celtic, Welsh, and English words for freedom all share this root in the concept of endearment or belovedness. We see this in the English word “friend,” sharing the same root as “free,” as with Freund and frei in German. Notably, the oldest known word associated with the idea of freedom is a Sumerian word, Ama-ar-gi, the root meaning of which is literally “going home to mother.” The word was used to describe the slave’s return to his family, his transformation from a condition of bondage to one of belonging, Fischer stresses.

Freedom was intrinsically a collective idea in the Northern languages. Broadly speaking, it did not refer to individual independence, but signified the condition of being joined to a free people, joined by rights of belonging and by reciprocal duties of membership in that people. It is implicitly a concept attached groups if not groups of families, that is, communities. A belonging that frees the person, as the group is free, must be sustained by an equality of rights and duties within the group, independent of other authorities.

While not devoid of corporate applications in the law, Greco-Roman “liberty,” in contrast, meant emancipation from other people—individual separation and independence from others’ control. It is a concept of status attached to individuals. The medieval libertas ecclesiae is translated “freedom of the church” in English, Latin and English “liberty” being insufficiently corporative to apply to the Church as a body (although Latin does have the physical concept of “corpus” itself, of course). In its common use in the Roman Empire, liberty was the opposite of slavery: the context of its meaning was the imperial state stratified into nobility, commons, freedmen, and slaves. Liberty meant release from slavery into the status of freedmen, nothing more. It could not be conceive as arising from one’s membership in a free community.

Our Bill of Rights is the world’s greatest monument of negative individual liberty. But our Christian heritage bears the imprint of the deeper idea that true liberty—freedom—derives from connectedness, not separation. Fischer stresses Germanic influences that shaped this tradition, as with Martin Luther, who described the “freedom of a Christian” as a seemingly paradoxical combination of two conditions. Luther said: “A Christian man is the most free lord of all, and subject to none”; at the same time, “A Christian man is the most dutiful servant of all, and subject to every one.” Through Christ the person is made free, subject to no other person; and yet, the person is also bound in Christ to serve others. Many of us grew up in churches where something like this was taught.

Baptist “soul freedom” is Germanic too, originating in Central Europe and finding a home at last in the United States, for better or worse. Soul freedom springs in part from the narrower sense of liberty one would expect from a historically persecuted sect. It means liberty of conscience first, in the negative, individualistic sense of restricting outside authority in matters of the soul. But it is not only that: issuing from God’s direct, unmediated reign in a person’s heart and mind, soul freedom breaks down barriers all around you as well. It is oneness with God through which you are connected and equalized with everything God loves. As it’s put in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Jesus Christ.” Luther adds muscle to the point in his Galatians Commentary: “There is neither magistrate nor subject, neither teacher nor hearer . . . neither master nor servant, neither mistress nor maid: for in Christ Jesus, all states, yea, even such as are ordained of God, are nothing.” Notably, the most radical Baptists originally preached and practiced community of goods.

For Roger Williams, the fearless Baptist come-outer and great pioneer of American religious liberties, soul freedom went hand in hand with political democracy and economic equality. He wrote passionately of his struggles to “defend a free people, not enslaved to the bondages and iron yokes of the great oppressions” of the “soul and body.” To these great oppressions, he wrote, “I say liberty and equality, both in land and government.” Now this fits with Fischer’s word study—Williams’ freedom was that of a “free people,” not independent individuals. And the oppressions of a free people were remedied not only by liberty, by political restraint, but by equality in the underlying conditions of a life together, which in Williams’ time meant equality of land.

Williams leads us to the heart of this question of freedom and liberty. The fact is, in America, both traditions are found side by side. This makes sense because we’re a nation of diverse immigrant populations with a national culture synthesized out of many traditions. Strikingly, in common speech, most of the Northern European languages have freedom but not liberty; the Mediterranean languages have liberty but not freedom. Only English contains both (thanks to the Norman Conquest). Only English gives us a choice between liberty and freedom, or the richer possibility of having both, or at least a creative tension between the two. Ethan Allen, the father of Vermont statehood and the first to capture a British fortress in the Revolutionary War (Fort Ticonderoga in 1775), wrote that he and his men, after breaking open the casks of rum, drank to “the liberty and freedom of America.” To our ears today, these may seem like synonyms used for rhetorical effect. But to Allen and his Green Mountain Boys, Fischer argues, they were two different things. And when we recognize how they were different, we realize how impoverished public life has become on the side of liberty as distinct from freedom. As Fischer states:

A person who was born to freedom in an ancient tribe had a sacred obligation to serve and support the folk, and to keep the customs of a free people, and to respect the rights of others on pain of banishment. In modern America too many people have forgotten this side of our inheritance.

Fascinating. But is the Greco-Roman conception of freedom really that opposed to the Germanic/Northern European one?

Tea at Trianon: A Tale of Two Monasteries

Tea at Trianon: A Tale of Two Monasteries
Sandro Magister, A Special Year to Get Priests Back in Shape
Benedict XVI has proclaimed it in order to strengthen the spiritual identity of the clergy, and to purify it from "filth." The Legionaries of Christ in the eye of the hurricane. On the seminaries, the unstinting diagnosis of the secretary of the congregation for Catholic education

Jean-Louis Bruguès, O.P.:

On many occasions, I have spoken about generations: about my own, about the one before me, about the future generations. This is, for me, the crucial pont of the present situation. Of course, the passage from one generation to another has always posed adjustment problems, but the one we are living through now is absolutely exceptional.

The theme of secularization should help us to understand better, even here. This secularization saw unprecedented acceleration during the 1960's. For the men of my generation, and even more for those who preceded me, who were often born and raised in a Christian environment, it constituted an essential discovery, the great adventure of their lives. They therefore came to interpret the "openness to the world" called for by Vatican Council II as a conversion to secularization.

In this way, in fact, we have experienced or even fostered an extremely powerful self-secularization in most of the Western Churches.

The examples are many. Believers are ready to exert themselves in the service of peace, justice, and humanitarian causes, but do they believe in eternal life? Our Churches have carried out an immense effort to renew catechesis, but does not this catechesis itself tend to overlook the ultimate realities? For the most part, our Churches have embarked upon the ethical debates of the moment, at the urging of public opinion, but how much do they talk about sin, grace, and the divinized life? Our Churches have successfully deployed massive resources in order to improve the participation of the faithful in the liturgy, but has not the liturgy for the most part lost the sense of the sacred? Can anyone deny that our generation, possibly without realizing it, dreamed of a "Church of the pure," a faith purified of any religious manifestation, warning against any manifestation of popular devotion like processions, pilgrimages, etc.?

The collision with the secularization of our societies has profoundly transformed our Churches. We could advance the hypothesis that we have passed from a Church of "belonging," in which the faith was determined by the community of birth, to a Church of "conviction," in which the faith is defined as a personal and courageous choice, often in opposition with the group of origin. This passage has been accompanied by startling numeric variations. Attendance has visibly diminished in the churches, in the courses of catechesis, but also in the seminaries. Years ago, Cardinal Lustiger nonetheless demonstrated, setting out the figures, that in France the relationship between the number of priests and that of practicing Catholics had always remained the same.

Our seminarians, like our young priests, also belong to this Church of "conviction." They don't so much come from rural areas anymore, but rather from the cities, especially from the university cities. They often grow up in divided or "split" families, which leaves them with scars and, sometimes, a sort of emotional immaturity. The social environment to which they belong no longer supports them: they have chosen to be priests out of conviction, and have therefore renounced any social ambition (what I am saying is not true everywhere; I know African communities in which families or villages still nurture the vocations that have arisen within them). For this reason, they offer better-defined profiles, stronger individuality, and more courageous temperaments. In this regard, they have the right to our full esteem.

The difficulty to which I would like to draw your attention therefore goes beyond the boundaries of a simple generational conflict. My generation, I insist, has equated openness to the world with conversion to secularization, and has experienced a certain fascination regarding it. But although the younger men were born in secularization as their natural environment and drank it together with their mother's milk, they still seek to distance themselves from it, and defend their identity and their differences.
Michael Shedlock, California 50 Days From Financial Meltdown
Kelley Vlahos, Prof. Bacevich Deflates COIN-Happy Crowd of 1,400
Transition Culture: Please Take Your Seats Ladies and Gentlement, the Online Screening of ‘In Transition’Starts Now…

For 3 days only!
Katherine Dalton discusses Dr. Fleming's The Morality of Everyday Life.
How Did 100,000,000 Women Disappear? by Nicole Baute , Toronto Star (via EB)

Can the people doing these studies (economists??) show that the supposed missing women died after they were born, and not before? Sex-selective abortions are common in at least India and China.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Coast to coast am Exorcism Matt Baglio 23rd March 2009 (Part 1)

Part 2

Apparently one of the sessions was tape-recorded. You can hear a clip of this on the radio program. There is also an advertisement for the book on youtube that features this clip, and is more audible. Did Mr. Baglio get permission to record? Normally this is not permitted, as far as I know.
Gary L. Gregg II reviews Wendell Berry and the Cultivation of Life: A Reader's Guide.
From Fr. Finigan: A participant in Professor Laszlo Dobszay's chant colloquium gives his personal account -- part 1 and part 2.
Obama's Doublespeak on Iran By ISMAEL HOSSEIN-ZADEH

Many of Obama’s fans, both at home and abroad (including, by the way, many in Iran), who were indignant of his predecessor’s unrefined personality and militaristic policies, seem to be in denial that Obama’s so-called “change” is mainly about style and rhetoric, not substance. This is true not only of foreign but also domestic policies. Just note how his neoliberal, supply-side economic response to the ongoing economic crisis is more friendly to Wall Street rackets than any other President’s in US history—President Reagan included.
EB: CERA official acknowledges “peak oil is here”

Speaking at the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in Washington DC on 8 June, CERA Global Oil Group Managing Director Jim Burkhard began and ended his talk by stating that “CERA acknowledges that peak oil is here, you heard it from a CERA person.”


@TAC: Lagaan Illuminates Cricket ( the game not the grasshopper)

official site

lagaan - radha kaise na jale


O rey chori

Choote Lagaan - Deleted Song from Lagaan -Exclusive

Lagaan Deleted Scene 2 - Exclusive

Deleted Scene 3- Lagaan "Aamir's Prank"- Excl
Deleted Scene 3 - Rang De Basanti - Excl

Planet-Bollywood - Film Review - Lagaan
Filmi Geek: Lagaan (2001)
Polyeleos - Chœur des Moines de Chevetogne

Classical Fencing and Sword Forum

I was trying to find that online journal about swords, but my search didn't turn anything up at first. I did find this, though:
Journal of Western Martial Arts.

It's been a while since I've visited the following websites:
Martinez Academy of Arms - Classical Fencing lessons in New York City (check out his links)
Classical Fencing (Adam Adrian Crown's book)

I think this is what I was looking for: Sword Forum International.

More links:
Classical Fencing and Historical Swordsmanship Resources
Classical Fencing
The Classical Fencing Society
Classical Fencing Society Scuola d'Armi
Classical Fencing Society Scuola di Arma
Classical Fencing Mailing List (CFML)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

John Médaille, The Economics of Distributism V: The Practice of Distributism

(the same as, or very similar to, this)
AsiaNews: Almost heroine status for young woman who killed official who tried to rape her
Deng Yujiao, 21, killed an important official after he assaulted her for rejecting his sexual advances. Internet is swamped by messages of solidarity for the humble woman who reacted to the violence of a public official.

Authorities fear high number of unemployed college graduates
China’s economic crisis is hitting college graduates hard for the first time. For many job anxiety leads to depression, but what concerns the government is that too many unemployed graduates might cause street protests.

Related links:
China News: Deng Yujiao Tells Her Story
Chinese Law Prof Blog: More on the Deng Yujiao story
Global Voices Online » China: Deng Yujiao Case Reporters Assaulted
Dueling statements in the Deng Yujiao murder case

Has geek become respectable?

NBC has renewed both Heroes and Chuck, while CBS has Big Bang Theory. Ashton Kutcher produced Beauty and the Geek. There is the magazine, Geek Monthly. (A bit more successful than Nerd Magazine?) And the new Star Trek movie continues to do ok at the box office. brings this bit of news: Orci & Kurtzman To Produce Masi Oka Movie About Gamers. A movie about MMORPG players who save the world? Is geek now chic?

Video gaming isn't enough to qualify one as a geek -- there are plenty of young males who aren't geeks who play video games, either on the computer or on gaming consoles -- frat boys, jocks, and so on. Although G4 does seem to reflect the fact that the lines between geek and normal have been somewhat blurred, at least with respect to video gaming.

Is it just one form of adultlescence among many? Or is it a male predisposition towards certain traits and kinds of behavior, one on a spectrum that goes from normal to autistic and beyond? The two aren't mutually exclusive, of course. What elements of the male psyche serve as the foundation of geekiness? An almost-exclusive focus on the task at hand, the use and appreciation of tools, and dependence on the sense of sight for appreciation of objects. Anything else?

Without Western affluence, being a geek would not be possible. (I don't think the use of computers is essential to being a geek; but maybe there is a significant difference between nerds and geeks than I not am aware of.) I don't think anyone could successfully argue that the "Dark Age" monks and the medieval scholastics were geeks, though it may be that contemporary scholars can be fond of texts and books a little bit too much. But that is a problem with [modern] scholarship, which has been separated from true learning as the curriculum has lost its unity and become fragmented.

St. Albert the Great a geek? I don't think so.

The ancient Greeks would have looked down upon geeks--they would probably be excluded from citizenship. (Although this would also be true of members of other American social categories, who would be judged as having interests that were too narrow and hence not able to participate in the good life.) The problem seems to go beyond a lack of temperance or moderation, but to their ordering of goods -- what they believe happiness consists in -- and a lack of wholeness. The biggest casualty seems to be relationships with members of the other sex, as the mass media reminds us in its depiction of the stereotype. But if we ask the question of whether geeks can go beyond friendships based on common pleasures to friendships based on virtue, we find the answer almost immediately--not until they have a fuller conception of what the virtuous life is.

Since we supposedly live in a republic or polity, until a more classical ideal of citizenship is restored and made attractive to males, geekiness will remain attractive to many. Or, if the country continues to lose wealth and production power, very few will be able to afford being a geek.

At least the problem here hasn't reached otaku proportions?

japan otaku

Think Geek :: Stuff for Smart Masses
Geek Squad
santa cruz/bay area geek social scene (geek social scene is not an oxymoron)

urban dictionary: otaku
University of Minnesota Press: Otaku
Otaku USA Magazine
Welcome to Otaku Town
Otaku Tourism
NPR: Revenge of Japan's Nerds
Aso promotes otaku culture in China
Otaku Proud of It
Japan Society, New York - Otaku Talk
Superflat Japanese Postmodernity

A blog, Dumb Otaku
Fr. Z: The reign in Spain: Consecration of Spain to the Sacred Heart

Another photo of the monument to the Sacred Heart.

So Sarge, when are we going to Spain?

Related links:
Cerro de los Ángeles
TIME Magazine Cover: King Alfonso XIII - Apr. 6, 1931
flickr Monumento del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús
wiki Cerro de los Ángeles

While googling for images of the monument, I see that there are other monuments to the Sacred Heart as well. Here is one -- Monumento a los Sagrados Corazones. San Juan de Aznalfarache. The one in Bilbao. Sigh. I don't think we will be seeing a monument to the Sacred Heart being erected in the United States any time soon. Is there any hope for Spain to be restored as a Catholic country?
NLM: Fr Lang on Beauty and the Liturgy

Fr Uwe Michael Lang, the well-known liturgical scholar, author of Turning Towards the Lord and official of the Congregation for Divine Worship, has a most interesting article in the latest edition of the Osservatore Romano about beauty and its importance for the liturgy, a question of greatest relevance for a new liturgical movement, and one which has frequently come up in articles as well as combox discussions here on the NLM (see, coincidentally, Matthew's latest post below, as well as Shawn's recent post on Continuity, Beauty and Dignity within the Liturgical Arts and their Development). Here is Fr. Lang's article, which is also an excellent synthesis of Pope Benedict's magisterium on this, in an NLM translation.
Jim Bovard, Israeli Attack on the USS Liberty: 42nd Anniversary:

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern had an excellent article on Counterpunch last week on the belated award of a silver star to Terry Halbardier, a Navy seaman who prevented the Israelis from finishing off the USS Liberty and all its crew. Scott Horton of Radio interviewed McGovern; the MP3 file is here.
Damian Thompson: In Ukraine, a Catholic university offers a way forward for a tired Western Church.

Ukrainian Catholic University is mentioned in this post on the ecumenical discussion on the date of Easter.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hermitage of the Holy Cross (ROCA)

DVD (link from the comments to this NLM post)

More ROCOR/ROCA links:
Синод РПЦЗ
Dr. Fleming, Religio Philologi: St. Basil of the Blogosphere

Let us return to the Church Fathers!
George Ajjan blogs about his experiences with Homeland Security last month when returning back to the United States from a trip overseas. It sounds worse than Peter Hitchens's recent dealings with UK customs authorities.

Jet Li's Wuji

Adidas has a new campaign featuring Wuji, a fitness and healthy system created by Jet Li. The video posted on FB. It looks like a mix of wushu and taiji, and my guess is that its purpose is to promote health through some sort of qi gong. (It is probably useless for actual self-defense, even if it were to include self-defense training as a component.) How many instructors does Li have? Will he be opening a school in Beijing and elsewhere? Will it be successful in China? People will probably continue to practice wushu, taiji, and qi gong instead.

Jet Li fronts adidas campaign - Media
Jet Li Introduces Wuji, a New Exercise System
Jet Li introduces new way to fitness
Jet Li blends martial-arts with yoga to keep fit
John Ross, Mexico: Politics as Drugs / Drugs as Politics

Under Calderon's unsteady hand, Mexico has fallen into ruins. Despite dubbing himself the "President of Employment", unemployment numbers are at a 13-year high - more than 2,000,000 jobs will have been lost by the end of 2009 at the current rate of attrition and the economy is headed for -7% negative "growth". Oil prices continue to stagnate after a $100 a barrel tumble earlier this year and exports are plummeting - the shutdown of the transnational automobile industry that accounts for a fifth of all exports to the U.S. portends fresh disaster.

Moreover, moneys sent home by Mexican workers in El Norte have been cut 20% and the recent swine flu panic combined with bloodcurdling drug violence has crushed the tourist industry, Mexico's third source of dollars.

Calderon's war on seven drug cartels which was declared just days after his chaotic December 2006 inauguration in a effort to flout his uncertain authority, has turned into a gory fracaso - Amnesty International's 2008 annual human rights report unveiled just last week in London decries violations of individual guarantees by Mexican police and military that have resulted in a score of executions of innocents and generated over a thousand formal complaints to the government's own National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).
The author of Nathancontramundi is now part of a group blog at The American Conservative -- Post Right.
Kenneth McIntyre, ‘Only a Man Harrowing Clods’—Wendell Berry’s The Unsettling of America

It is a great irony, then, that the most compelling critique of Berry’s work comes not from contemporary proponents of perpetual progress but instead from some of the classical sources which nourish his own work. For Aristotle, the natural end of human activity is contemplation of the beautiful, the good, and the true, and the prerequisite for such contemplation is leisure. Indeed, the distinction between work, which is inherently practical, and contemplation, which is concerned with the intrinsic value of things, is central to classical philosophy.

Of course, the Aristotelian understanding of leisure refers to time spent in study and contemplation, not time spent on the golf course with a six-pack. However, despite Berry’s exceptional gift for combining the active life with the contemplative, for most human beings, the leisure necessary to achieve the contemplation of the true and the good requires leaving the farm for the library or the monastery. Thus, the real dilemma that Berry’s work presents lies not in choosing between a sterile and fragmented liberalism, which he rightly derides, and a more nourishing and unified agrarian ideal, but instead consists of the perennial struggle to balance the necessary and fundamental value of proper work with the indispensable because essential task to become more fully human through the contemplation of the permanent things.

I believe Mr. Berry recognizes the importance of leisure, and he may even agree that ultimately, work is for the sake of leisure and that work and leisure are not equally important ends. But as for the criticism that he is not Aristotelian enough--I don't see that is a problem, if Mr. Berry is an orthodox Christian. He does not talk much about his brand of Christianity, or of his prayer life. Is Aristotelian contemplation the best activity we can aspire to in this life? Or is this something greater, given to us by God Himself?

It seems to me that Mr. McIntyre is too enthusiastic about the Aristotelian account of man's ultimate end. I would argue that not even Aquinas accepted Aristotle on this point of his ethics.
Sandro Magister, Eve of an Encyclical. And from Germany, Marx Reappears
A few weeks before the publication of "Caritas in Veritate," the German Catholic jurist Ernst-Wolfgang Böckenförde, highly esteemed by the pope, calls for the Church to write the definitive "manifesto" against capitalism. Which must be overturned at its foundations, because it is inhuman

From Professor Ratzinger Goes Back to School. With the Children, the Holy Father gives this advice to children which we adults should follow as well:

First of all, prayer. Prayer is a reality: God listens to us, and when we pray, God enters into our lives, he becomes present among us, active. Prayer is a very important thing, which can change the world, because it makes the power of God present. And it is important to help each other to pray: we pray together in the liturgy, we pray together in the family. And here I would say that it is important to begin the day with a little prayer, and also to end the day with a little prayer: remembering our parents in prayer. Pray before lunch, before dinner, and on the occasion of the common celebration on Sunday. A Sunday without the Mass, the great common prayer of the Church, is not a real Sunday: the heart of Sunday is missing, and with it the light of the week. And you can also help others – especially when there are no prayers at home, when prayer is unknown – you can teach others to pray: pray with others and introduce them to communion with God.

Next, listening, which means really learning what Jesus tells us. Moreover, knowing the Sacred Scripture, the Bible. In the story of Jesus, we come to know the face of God, we learn what God is like. It is important to know Jesus deeply, personally. This is how he enters into our lives, and, through our lives, enters into the world.

And also sharing, not wanting things for ourselves alone, but for all; sharing with others. And if we see another who may be in need, who is less fortunate, we must help him and in this way make the love of God present without big words, in our little personal world, which is part of the big world. And in this way we become a family together, where each respects the other: bearing with the other in his uniqueness, even accepting those we don't like, not letting anyone be marginalized, but helping him to be part of the community. All of this simply means living in this big family of the Church, in this big missionary family.

A modernized P&P that doesn't get Austen

Austen Blog: Report on Israeli P&P Series

Bingley rents a “tzimer”, a beautiful house in the north for a weekend or more. That house belongs to the Bennets (called here Sadeh). Alona and Artzi (Darcy and Lizzy) start badly, she is 8 years older than him and she has a 15 years rebellious girl. Artzi is rich and he comes from Tel Aviv (people from there have pride, according to the stereotype). Lady Catherine is Artzi’s stepmother and boss of Gross (Collins) and she has a daughter. Alona is divorced and her ex seems to be a Wickham type. Neta (Jane) is also divorced.

"Elizabeth" divorced, and with a daughter? Who's peddling this romantic fantasy to Israeli women? How sad, to trivialize Austen and her lessons so that the brand is relevant for contemporary "liberated" women. (What does this also say about secularized Israeli society?)

If we were going to be realistic... Artzi would shack up with Alona and then start having a relationship with the daughter, who has daddy issues.

Sometimes I have to agree with Alsdair MacIntyre -- perhaps it would be better if people didn't read Austen -- then they wouldn't misunderstand her so badly and then misrepresent her.

Will Higher Education Be the Next Bubble to Burst? By JOSEPH MARR CRONIN and HOWARD E. HORTON

(via Stephen Hand)
The Internet Lynching of Marcus Epstein, by Bay Buchanan

People being judgmental... who's being compassionate and tolerant here?
John Médaille, Chapter XVII: The Practice of Distributism

(He talks about the Mondragón Cooperative Corporation (MCC), and other examples of distributist economics.)
7 Ways to be a Dolt about Credit

Have I complained about credit card companies and the whole credit system lately?

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Tim Case, A Peccancy

Even a cursory check of a Greek dictionary reveals that "exousia" has as its primary meaning: "noun feminine; power of choice, liberty of doing as one pleases."

Furthermore that is exactly how those notable thinkers of antiquity, Plato and Aristotle used the word "exousia." The Greek Glossary of Aristotelian Terms affirms that "exousia" means "a right."

Aristotle not only uses exousia as a right but further qualifies the word when he says: "The right (exousia) to do anything one wishes leaves [the political community] defenseless..."

SWAT Team Fail

SWAT Team FAIL - For more of the funniest videos, click here

Something the folks over at LRC would appreciate...
Judge Napolitano: Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act Passes

Kevin Gutzman's post at Taki on this appearance: Tenth Amendment Movement Spreads

Not a flattering photo

of the First Lady.

France's first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (L) and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama speak at the Colleville-sur-Mer cemetery as they attend a ceremony to mark the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, June 6, 2009. (Reuters/Daylife)

From left, Sarah Brown, wife of Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown, French first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, and U.S. first lady Michelle Obama attend a ceremony to mark the 65th Anniversary of the D-day landings in Normandy at the American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur -Mer, near Caen, Western France, Saturday, June 6, 2009. (AP/Daylife)

Is the First Lady glaring at someone?

Some more photos:

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) arrives with his wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to attend D-Day celebrations to mark the 65th anniversary of the allied landings in France, in Colleville-sur-Mer June 6, 2009. (Reuters/Daylife)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy and French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy arrive, on June 6, 2009 at the Caen Prefecture before the commemorations marking the 65th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 allied landings in Normandy, northwestern France. (Getty/Daylife)

US First Lady Michelle Obama (L) and French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy arrive on June 6, 2009 at the Caen Prefecture before the commemorations marking the 65th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 allied landings in Normandy, northwestern France. (Getty/Daylife)

French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (C) arrives with US President Barack Obama (R) and his wife Michelle (L) on June 6, 2009 at the Caen Prefecture prior the commemorations marking the 65th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 allied landings in Normandy, northwestern France. (Getty/Daylife)

French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy (R) arrives with US First Lady Michelle Obama on June 6, 2009 at the Caen Prefecture prior the commemorations marking the 65th anniversary of the June 6, 1944 allied landings in Normandy, northwestern France. (Getty/Daylife)

French President Nicolas Sarkozy waits for French First Lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy as they leave the Caen Prefecture after meeting with US President Barack Obama on June 6, 2009. US President Barack Obama joins the leaders of Britain and France and hundreds of World War II veterans Saturday to mark the 65th anniversary of D-Day on the beaches of Normandy. As star guest of the commemorations, Obama is to deliver a speech before 9,000 people including 200 US D-Day veterans at a clifftop graveyard in northern France which has become a symbol of America's sacrifice for Europe's freedom. (Getty/Daylife)

I think Carla Bruni-Sarkozy may be trying too hard in presenting herself... maybe it's her model background. But something about her appearance in this photo seems inappropriate for the occasion.

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy (C) and first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy walk in Colleville-sur-Mer during celebrations marking the 65th anniversary of D-Day landings in France June 6, 2009. (Reuters/Daylife)

It's almost as if she belongs in the 50s (in certain respects). Maybe wives of European politicians and leaders take the "old-fashioned glamour" more seriously. Or there is something else at work?

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (R) arrives on June 7, 2009 with first lady Carla Bruni-Sarkozy to cast their votes for the European parliamentary election at the La Fontaine college polling station in Paris XVith district. European governments watch nervously Today as voters completed four days of polling in EU parliamentary elections, amid fears of low turnout and extremist gains throughout the recession-hit continent. (Getty/Daylife)

France's President Nicolas Sarkozy's wife Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, accompanied by her husband, casts her ballot during the European Parliament election in Paris June 7, 2009. (Reuters/Daylife)

Brussels Journal brings us something more serious: Sarkozy: “Islamization is Inevitable”

A general view of Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, France, is seen during the 65th anniversary of D-Day at Normandy, June 6, 2009.

ARROWMANCHES, FRANCE - JUNE 06: Veterans gather as they take part in the Normandy Veterans Final Salute on June 6 2009 in Arrowmanches, France. . Several hundred of the remaining veterans of the Normandy campaign have returned to France, many for the final time, to take part in commemorations to mark the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944. (Getty/Daylife)

ARROWMANCHES, FRANCE - JUNE 06: Veterans shelter in the main square from the rain prior to the Normandy Veterans Final Salute on June 6 2009 in Arrowmanches, France. . Several hundred of the remaining veterans of the Normandy campaign have returned to France, many for the final time, to take part in commemorations to mark the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1944. (Getty/Daylife)

(L to R) U.S. President Barack Obama, Britain's Prince Charles, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and France's President Nicolas Sarkozy arrive at the Colleville-sur-Mer cemetery to attend a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, June 6, 2009. (Reuters/Daylife)

Taki on the failure to include the Germans in the official D-Day commemoration: Blood & Iron.

According to American General Burton, “the Germans are staying in there just by the guts of their soldiers. We outnumber them 10 to 1 in infantry, 50 to 1 in artillery and we have total superiority on the air. The Germans are not moving and the SS among them are the bravest.”

Well, it’s nice to read it at last. The German defenders fought to the last because they listened to the orders of their NCO’s, and unlike the Allied forces, did not wait for orders from up top. And there is another reason.

The Wehrmacht and the practice of 3GW. Americans still have a long way to go, according to experts like William Lind.

St Mere Eglise - D-Day airborne landing site

The Americans on D-Day